There are lots of examples of agencies that are not successful in their recruiting efforts, but the Charlotte County Sheriffs Office (CCSO) in Florida has made major changes and established a premier recruiting program. As in many agencies, the success of a program is often based on having the right person in the right place; Corporal Phillip Schofield, a former Marine with recruiting experience ,is that man.
Corporal Schofield, an attendee at one of the recruiting classes I taught, joined the CCSO in 2001. He saw the difficulties that his agency was having in getting qualified applicants. To further complicate the matter, Charlotte County was extremely hard hit by Hurricane Charley in 2004.
CCSO employs both correctional and field or "road" deputies. Corporal Schofield came up with an organized plan to completely revitalize the recruiting effort. With the buy-in by CCSO Sheriff Davenport and his administration, he set his plan into motion with outstanding results. The success of his plan showed that those agencies that continually complain but do nothing are shooting themselves in the foot.
Among the main points of the Charlotte County plan are as follows:
- Develop a slogan or motto. In the case of Corporal Schofield and CCSO it was "Why settle for silver when you can wear gold?"
- Support from the administration. Without a real buy-in by your sheriff (or chief) and his (or her) staff your efforts may be futile.
- Work closely with human resources (HR), training, and the background units to coordinate efforts and avoid wasted time.
- Have an active recruiting effort. Sell and market your agency. Get out and beat the bushes, but first figure out where and how to best spend your energy.
- Streamline the hiring process. This is likely the #1 issue unless you want to get others' leftovers. CCSO has shortened the process to six to eight weeks.
- Have a professional recruiting program which includes your website, brochures, recruiting booth, etc.
- Have a system to evaluate the success or failures of your effort and adjust quickly.
- Work with area businesses and leaders that might help in your efforts.
- Fix bottlenecks. In this case, it included the lengthy hiring process and in particular the background investigation. The solution included hiring experienced, retired cops and contracting services.
While other agencies might test yearly or semi-annually, CCSO held frequent orals and agility testing.
Another proactive action by Sheriff Davenport was increasing wages. In my opinion, competitive wages are important but so is truthfully "spinning" what you offer, including quality of life, other benefits, work hours and shifts, advancement, take-home cars, cost of housing, area recreation, schools, etc.
As a result of his efforts and support by Sheriff Davenport; the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office has reached around 100% staffing levels with high quality employees!